This essay explores the role of the photographic image in the documentation of lynchings and racial violence in the United States, beginning with the idea that all photographs are “abandonings.” It offers an overview of the history of lynchings that occurred between the end of the Civil War and the present day, before exploring the impact of lynching photographs and postcards collected in the 2000 publication Without Sanctuary. Chiefly, the essay introduces a new body of work entitled “The Spaces We Inherit.” This is a series of photographs of lynching sites that present racial violence in terms of spatial documentation, reflecting changes and stasis to the physical and psychic geography—what is both seen and not seen. “The Spaces We Inherit” also includes portraits and interviews with individuals connected to the physical locations and the events themselves. “The Spaces We Inherit,” along with its predecessors, is a refutation of willed amnesia and what Lillian Smith called “the tyranny of silence.”


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pp. 62-77
Launched on MUSE
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